LAS VEGAS – Immigration and patent reform lead the checklist of things government can do to help entrepreneurs launch startup companies, a panel at the Consumer Electronics Show said, but those are just two items on a very long list.
A looser immigration policy would bring in more talented engineers and software coders to support entrepreneurs as well as foreign-born entrepreneurs themselves. Patent reform could reduce the anxiety among entrepreneurs and, more importantly, their investors that they’ll be hit with costly lawsuits from patent trolls, groups that don’t produce any products but own broad patents that they use to demand payments from companies they say are infringing on those patents.
Consumer Electronics Association President Gary Shapiro slammed patent trolls during a keynote presentation at CES and expressed similar views in a Nextgov post on Monday.
Here are some other ways government can help entrepreneurs, according to panelists:
Local governments should invest in high speed broadband, which could significantly reduce costs for startups, said Chet Kanojia, founder and CEO of Aereo, Inc., an online TV service.
Local government chief technology officers and chief innovation officers could spend more time boosting awareness of local startups on social media, said Mara Lewis, CEO and co-founder of stopped.at, a service that allows people to check in Foursquare-style at their favorite websites. They could also help convene a local community of mentors and venture capitalists.
Local, state and federal officials and their staffs could engage more often and more directly with entrepreneurs in an effort to cut or reform regulations that make entrepreneurship difficult, said Josh Mendelsohn, co-founder of Engine Advocacy, a group that represents technology entrepreneurs before government officials.
“One notion I find a lot of entrepreneurs will accidentally adhere to is that government just needs to get out of the way,” Mendelsohn said. “I believe that’s naïve. We help early on bringing entrepreneurs to DC and to state capitals and we find a lot of staff and elected (officials) who want to support this technology and they’re users of this technology but they don’t understand what the regulations are that are keeping growth from occurring.”